At the the Conservative website The Weekly Standard, commentator Ike Brannon has published an article that delves into an issue that might upset some of the Washington DC up and coming food truck vendors. He goes on to state that it is his belief that the current lottery system setup for DC food trucks is tantamount to the government subsidizing the mobile food industry…
The Food Truck Farce
About a year ago, the government of Washington, D.C., introduced a lottery system to allocate lunch hour parking spots for the city’s booming food truck industry. The one-year retrospectives have been almost uniformly positive, with the government, the media, and the food truck vendors themselves declaring it a rousing success.
I beg to differ.
Simply put, there’s an efficient way to allocate these slots — often located in highly desirable areas — in a way that doesn’t involve allowing for-profit companies to use scarce government property worth millions of dollars while paying only a pittance.
The problem at hand was completely predictable once food trucks started popping up in the city a few years back. In order to get the best spots, food truck operators would mill about for hours in the morning near their preferred locales and–where they could get away with it–pay people to park their cars to hold a spot for them. Besides the trucks tying up traffic as they congregated near the hot spots, the truck owners themselves weren’t fond of having to waste hours a day plus gas money to land a prime spot.
The city put an end to this by awarding spaces via a lottery: Each morning there’s a draw that determines who gets to park on Farragut Square–a prime location near K Street and several government buildings–and who ends up at places with significantly less foot traffic, like McPherson and Franklin Squares.
While it may be true that this is better–from a food truck owner’s perspective, at least–than the first come, first serve method that preceded it, a much better solution would be for the government to simply auction the desired parking slots to the highest bidder. When I say better, I mean not just from the taxpayer’s perspective, but from a broader societal perspective as well.
Find the entire article at The Weekly Standard <here>
As you can see, his approach would be to have the government auction off these parking locations to the highest bidder all in the name of free market economics. Unfortunately, he completely misses on the idea that by doing this, you would basically pit the larger truck business against those who don’t have the working capital, nor the notoriety as the older trucks.
We are all for free market economics, but it appears to us that Mr. Brannon has missed the target and suggested a system that would damage the industry…not help it.
What do you think?